Modern communications technology is often blamed for supposed declining standards in literacy. But a British study finds children who make regular use of social networking tools are more likely to be confident about their written communication.
The study by the National Literacy Trust found some seemingly obvious patterns, such as the fact that children who wrote on blogs were more likely to say they enjoyed writing. However, the study may give a clearer insight into exactly why that is: blog writers were considerably more likely to back the view that writing is more fun when you can choose your own topic.
The results also showed that children who write blogs or participate on social networks are notably more likely to rate their own writing skills highly. Perhaps surprisingly, one in four children blog regularly, while one in six maintain their own website.
Of course, there’s no guarantee how any cause and effect works in this situation. It’s possible that children who are already confident about communication are more likely to be drawn to social networking.
The study also found that mobile phone ownership makes little discernible difference to a child’s attitude to writing or how often they write. That may simply be down to mobile use being so widespread among children that mobile users are too big a group to have any distinct characteristics.
One result which will make some easily shocked traditionalists gasp is that more children reported writing a text message in the past month (81.9 percent) than writing homework (77 percent). The next three most popular forms of writing were all tech-related: instant messaging, e-mails and post on a social networking site.
It’s also worth noting that the study was based on an online survey (albeit one carried out at schools), meaning children with little or no internet access at school will have been underrepresented.